Update 1 p.m.
Florida State's presidential search committee today voted to narrow its decision to one candidate: state Sen. John Thrasher.
The committee voted 15-9 to make a decision on prominent Republican Thrasher first, before its full search got going. The university's Board of Trustees makes the actual decision on FSU's next president.
The presidential search advisory committee is preparing to interview Thrasher and have him meet with university constituents.
Thrasher, who has yet to formally apply for the position, has told William Funk, the head hunter hired by FSU, that he is interested in the position and will be providing a resume.
Funk told the search panel today that Thrasher "casts a large shadow" over the search process. He has recommended the search committee vet Thrasher and give him an up or down vote before the search resumes on a national scale.
On Monday, former FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte wrote a three-page letter endorsing Thrasher.
Florida State's presidential search committee has a pending motion to make state Sen. John Thrasher the sole candidate considered to lead the university.
Before the vote, Trustee Ed Burr, chair of the search committee, opened the meeting for public comment.
Regina Joseph, vice president of the FSU Dream Defenders – a student civil-rights advocacy group – said students would march against a Thrasher presidency, in opposition to the prominent Republican.
Earlier in the day, a faculty group said it had lost confidence in the process and called for the consultant hired to lead the search to be fired and the search committee expanded to include more faculty.
The committee searching for Florida State University's next president meets today and a group representing faculty is not happy, asserting the process is being conducted "simply as cover for a predetermined political arrangement."
United Faulty Florida, Florida State Chapter officials announced this morning they have lost confidence in the search process and called for the firm hired to conduct the search be replaced and for expansion of the search committee to include more faculty members.
After news broke yesterday, revealed first by the Tallahassee Democrat, that former FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte nominated state Sen. John Thrasher for the position, criticism of the process and Thrasher has been expressed by the United Faculty Florida and a number of student groups, including Tallahassee Dream Defenders.
Officials for the faculty group said earlier reports that Thrasher – a prominent lawmaker who is a co-chair of Gov. Rick Scott's reelection campaign, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and former speaker of the House – was being championed by some members of the search committee had troubled its members, but they had been assured the selection process would be open and fair.
"We now believe that there is ample evidence indicating that this process is not being conducted fairly, is not open and transparent, and is ignoring the needs of the faculty, students and taxpayers," according to a release from the FSU chapter of United Faculty of Florida.
Florida State Dream Defenders, a civil-rights advocacy group, also today objected to the process and specifically to Thrasher.
"Students are upset with the lack of transparency that this search process has undergone," according to a statement released by FSU Dream Defenders.
Brian Marshall, FSU campus president for Dream Defenders, also took exception to specific actions by Thrasher, particularly his proposal earlier this year to include in the state budget money for FSU to begin the process of splitting up its partnership with Florida A&M University in the College of Engineering.
"Senator John Thrasher has time and time again opposed the interests of black and brown students," the Dream Defenders statement said.